Civil Defence volunteers join containment efforts

Assembly line: Civil Defence volunteers packing essential supplies for distribution. Photo: Special Arrangement  

More than 50,000 Civil Defence volunteers are working at the grassroots level in various roles and capacities to assist the local administration in implementing the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The Central government has made budgetary provisions under the State Disaster Relief Fund and asked the State governments to procure as many personal protective equipment as they want for use by the deployed workers,” said a senior Civil Defence official.

Civil Defence personnel have been deployed in all the States and most Union Territories, barring Ladakh, Daman & Diu, and Puducherry. Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Assam have taken the lead in using their services, the official said.

The volunteers have been deployed under the command of District Magistrates to assist the local administration in implementing the COVID-19 guidelines and policies effectively. “As they are from within the community, they are extending the policies, facilities and services of the government up to the block level,” said the official.

The Civil Defence personnel are supplementing the local administration in conducting surveillance of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. They have been working as rapid response teams.

“The volunteers are also manning hunger helplines and assisting elderly citizens. They are helping in the maintenance of essential supplies, like packing and home distribution of ration and medicines,” the official said.

The volunteers are supplementing health workers and also carrying out community awareness drives on social distancing and hygiene practices. Besides, they are being roped in for distribution of PPEs, masks and sanitisers and setting up community kitchens and shelters for migrant workers and other stranded persons.

Civil Defence operates under the Civil Defence Act and associated rules and regulations. The Act was amended in 2009 and a notification was issued in 2010 to include disaster management as an additional role.

Although it is a Central law, Section 4 of the Civil Defence Act empowers State governments to raise corps at the local administration level as per their requirement. The District Magistrate, District Collector or Deputy Commissioner is designated as Controller of the Civil Defence.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 8:05:42 PM |

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